World Knowledge Forum, Shaping the New Millennium with Knowledge
· Since 2000, the World Knowledge Forum has been held annually
· “Supercompensation” to overcome the pandemic-triggered global economic downturn
· World-class pundits and experts are brought together
· World’s largest knowledge forum “made in Korea”
· What are the “five fundamentals” of success that the organizer pointed out?
The World Knowledge Forum (WKF), “world's largest knowledge festival,” which was launched in 2000 with the beginning of the new millennium, marked its 23rd anniversary this year. The WKF is the largest annual business forum in Asia hosted by the Maekyung Media Group with the aim of transforming Korea into a creative knowledge-driven nation and brings together the world’s prominent pundits to discuss global issues and provide possible solutions. The WKF’s agenda for this year is “Supercompensation: Restoring Global Prosperity & Freedom.” The unprecedented COVID-19 wreaked havoc across the world and the global economy sank into the mire in just three years. The “supercompensation” which refers to the stage of going beyond recovery to a better state is urgently needed.
△ World Knowledge Forum 2022
The WKF 2022 held at the Jangchung Arena as the main venue, plus the Shilla Seoul Hotel and Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) between September 20-22 is an expensive forum with registration fees exceeding 3 million won. On the opening day alone, however, it attracted 2,600 participants (10,000 participants on a yearly basis), drawing the attention of people around the world. During the event, the supercompensation was discussed in seven tracks: The New Cold War, New Wealth Equation, Dynamics of Industrial Transformation, Future Launchpad, Greenshift & C-Tech Race, Algebra of Freedom, Rebuilding Trust & Making Life Worthwhile.
David Cameron, former prime minister of the United Kingdom joined the keynote session at the opening ceremony, saying “The world is facing a complex global crisis combining financial crisis, COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russian-Ukrainian war. To achieve ‘supercompensation,’ deeper partnerships with countries and creating a greater sense of alliances are a must.” Francois Hollande, former president of France, also stressed the importance of international solidarity, saying “We should not let nationalism prevail and we can overcome the crisis only when liberal democratic countries are in solidarity.” Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, a professor at the City University of New York, showed confidence in the global economy, saying “A global recession would end within one or two years.”
The term “supercompensation” is rather unfamiliar now, but it is expected to become a keyword to describe the global economy in the near future. In fact, quite a lot of keywords have become popular through the WKF. According to the “World Knowledge Forum Keyword Network Analysis (by Woo-sung Jeong and others)” published in August, after the term “virtual reality” was first discussed in 2016 at the WKF, the terms “artificial intelligence (AI)” and “virtual currency” were the main keywords at the event in the following year. Only one or two years later, the use of these words grew exponentially in domestic and overseas news and research reports. Clearly, this attests to the role of the WKF as a venue leading the “world knowledge” as its name implies.
A total of approximately 5,188 global speakers and 55,860 participants (as of 2021) have taken part in the forum since the first event held under the theme of “Shaping the New Millennium with Knowledge.” It is now fair to say that the WKF has now risen to the ranks of the knowledge forums that not only Asia, but the world is paying attention to.
Seung-jin Choi, head of the Project Planning Team of the WKF, said “Due to the nature of the forum dealing with global issues, the theme of the next forum is determined from the end of the year to April or May. This year, various unfavorable factors including COVID-19 and Russia's war on Ukraine put the global economy at serious risk. Under the circumstances, the theme of the supercompensation is the most appropriate to deliberate on both the current challenges and future solutions.” “As the theme is required to cover the WKF's goal, it is determined based on thoughts and ideas of experts in various fields,” he added.
△ ‘New Wealth Equation’ session in progress
(provided by Maekyung Media Group)
In addition to lectures by global pundits, the WKF solves problems together by taking multi-faceted approaches to the theme and encouraging the participation of the audience. One of those examples is “open session.” The WKF made 17 high-quality lectures available at no charge to the public. A range of lectures by high-profile guests who have recently been in the spotlight of the world’s media, including Min-jin Lee, author of ‘Pachinko’, Yutaka Matsushige, actor starring in the Japanese TV drama “The Solitary Gourmet,” Philip Rosedale, founder of Metaverse, were available free of charge to those with advance booking.
The “Metaverse WKF Hall” featured not only live lectures but a variety of programs such as NFT exhibitions for enhanced audience experience. The Hall consists of 3 halls for speaker introduction, live streaming and NFT exhibitions in collaboration with artist LAYLAY, the first NFT artist who held a solo exhibition in Korea. The exhibition hall housed a collection of various artworks by over 30 NFT artists including LAYLAY. Participants who watched the live streaming and presented a proof of their participation were given prizes such as Galaxy Watch 5 and virtual asset Klay.
△ Metaverse hall at WKF 2022 (provided by Maekyung Media Group)
The WKF newsletter “Knowledge Inbox” is a sort of communication channel between speakers and participants. Prior to the forum, subscribers are allowed to leave questions to speakers who plan to attend, and the speakers will answer those questions. Every time the line-up of speakers is released for each event, newsletter subscribers scramble to ask questions. In fact, the new communication channel has proved particularly effective with an increase in the number of subscribers from 4,000 last December to 6,800 at the end of July.
The special exhibition on the Lee Kun-hee collection titled “stroll” was held on the sidelines of the forum at the Shilla Seoul three days before its opening (Sept. 17), attracting many participants. Some of the collections donated by the late Samsung Chairman Kun-hee Lee (34 artworks by 15 Korean artists) were exhibited and participants were allowed to enter the exhibition without reservation. Informed visitor services such as a description by professional commentators and audio docent service through the mobile app were also available.
Meanwhile, the forum this year featured its first own theme song created by Korean AI songwriting startup POZAlabs. The POZAlabs uses its AI song-producing system to create songs with the resounding and powerful sound of an orchestra by combining virtual instrument sources in around 5 minutes. In addition, a multitude of events such as a gala dinner (including Honey J’s Holy Bang performance), Min-jin Lee and Anindya Ghose's “Book Shining” were provided to enrich participants’ experience.
△ ‘Threat to a Hyper-connected Society’ session in progress (provided by Maekyung Media Group)
The WKF is emerging as the world's leading international event that brings together the world’s leading pundits, entrepreneurs, sources from international organizations to deliberate on global issues and provide possible solutions. In particular, the forum is recognized as a major domestic MICE convention as it is a convention “made in Korea.” The WKF pointed out “five fundamentals” for its success.
First, follow the trends of the time. Second, invite speakers required by the trends. Third, ensure that a secretariat is maintained continuously. Fourth, make sure to have professional congress organizers making constant efforts. “It costs a fortune to create and operate a forum that the world pays attention to. If the economy is bad, getting sponsorships becomes difficult. Nevertheless, the WKF was able to be held for 23 years, thanks to the willingness of the Maekyung Media Group Chairman Dae-whan Chang,” said Tae-Young Choi, CEO of Intercom. The fifth is the organizer’s willingness.
“The WKF has solidified its position as a feast and a new world of knowledge that brings together global pundits and leaders. Recently, it has been in the vanguard of spreading knowledge to citizens not only in Korea but in the world by using various technologies and global platforms that overcame the physical distance. During the three days of the forum, participants will discuss ways to maintain harmonious growth and prosperity and to create a better world. In return, we promise to repay their precious time with the best knowledge,” said Dae-whan Chang, chairman of Maekyung Media Group.
[Interview] Seung-jin Choi, head of the Project Planning Team of the WKF and Tae-young Choi, CEO of Intercom
What is the secret behind the success of the World Knowledge Forum to become Asia’s best knowledge feast?
△ Seung-jin Choi, the organizing team head of WKF (left), Tae-young Choi, CEO of INTERCOM (right)
The World Knowledge Forum (WKF), which has maintained its reputation as “the best knowledge feast in Asia” for over 2 decades is the result of the willingness of the Maekyung Media Group (organizer) and cooperation with Intercom (PCO). Public attention has been drawn to how the forum was founded and what effect did the cooperation between the two organizations have on the forum. On September 21, at the site of the World Knowledge Forum (WKF), we sat down with Seung-jin Choi, head of the Project Planning Team of the WFK and Tae-young Choi, CEO of Intercom.
-The WKF, which had discussed global issues and provided solutions each year, marked its 23rd anniversary.
Tae-young Choi: “In 1997, Maekyung Media Group (Maekyung) launched a national conference to deliver a message of hope to the public who fell into despair and to propose policy directions to the government that was floundering during the Asian financial crisis. At the conference, the future national agenda was established. Back then, Dae-whan Chang, chairman of Maekyung, wanted to expand the national conference into an international conference that discusses global issues and predicts the future. And he benchmarked the World Economic Forum to turn the meaningful knowledge agenda into a global forum.”
-What is the secret to making it possible to operate the forum for over 2 decades?
Seung-jin Choi: “A knowledge forum is a composite art performed through the collaboration among various fields of expertise. Chairman Chang thoroughly investigates global trends from various sources including the World Economic Forum to get an idea about the speakers and themes to be selected. Sometimes, he suggests a direction and contacts a pundit. We have advantages in networking as we are a media group. We have reporters and staff at the Knowledge Department. The reporters and staff perform the legwork and utilize the network of various newspapers to contact world-class speakers in various fields. Next is about hardware. Today alone, the number of participants is over 3,000. An annual figure is close to 10,000. Over the course of three days of the event, we need a massive hardware capability. Intercom is the only professional conference organizer in Korea that can handle such a large-scale event.”
-Over the past 2 decades, more than 5,000 global pundits have joined to address global issues through the WKF. What is the impact of the forum on the world?
Seung-jin Choi: “We feel obliged to constantly take on a new challenge as we believe that the WKF leads all the other knowledge forums in the world. First, the WKF leads global issues by example. This year, we operated 7 tracks including geopolitics, economy, and climate change. In particular, a great number of speakers who had insights on energy transition and climate change took part in the forum. Topics such as “space” are one to look out for as it is important to predict and prepare for the future. Discussions made at the World Knowledge Forum this year will lead to next year’s trends. As such, I believe that the forum has successfully done its part as a platform to spread not only global issues but changes in Korea to the world.”
-What is the legacy the WKF left in Seoul's MICE industry?
Tae-young Choi: “We focus on the elements from the software perspective. Above all, we tried to follow the trends of the times. For this reason, we actively accepted advanced culture. We produced the best possible solutions with the limited goods and resources we had. Since there was no convention center in central Seoul, we created a sort of “MICE belt.” Areas within a 500-meter radius from the Jangchung Arena, the Shilla Seoul Hotel, Novotel Ambassador Hotel to the National Theater of Korea were connected as the MICE venue. A super-large LED 8 meters high and 55 meters wide was installed in the Jangchung Arena, resulting in an unprecedented benchmark case in the world. Recently, with the adoption of Metaverse, an event combining the real world and virtual world was planned by using the virtual system. So, if I had to pick one, I would like to point out that we have tried something new by actively using the latest technology trends.”
-What's the appeal of the “host city Seoul”?
Tae-young Choi: “In the early 2000s when the forum was in its beginning stage, Seoul was the only city available to hold a large-scale event. The appeal of the “host city Seoul” is that it's a place where diverse global economic activities take place actively. We haven’t yet found an alternative city as a knowledge forum is required to cover all areas of politics, economy, society, and culture. It’s “Dynamic Seoul, Korea”, literally. In addition, global MICE participants are attracted to Seoul which is well-known as a “safe city.” Interpretation services are also available at each major venue. Seoul is a MICE city that satisfies the criteria of diversity, dynamism, and safety.”